Archive for the ‘interview’ Category



“Carrying a burden that’s too much to handle? On the edge of the cliff looking down with no way across? Focus on God and His word for the answers. He’ll give you the power you need.”


“Pearls lie not on the seashore. If thou desirest one, thou must dive for it. (Chinese proverb)”



rem:  Hullo, Angie, welcome to my little nest—and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ANGIE:  I was born in a small town outside Rock Hill, SC and now I live in a smaller town north of Columbia, SC.

rem:  You are SO close to me! Tell us three things about yourself.

ANGIE:  I have a degree in Art and was a commissioned pen-and-ink artist. In addition to that, I’ve been a science teacher, a corporate trainer and curriculum designer. At one time, when I was going back to school for my master’s degree, I had three part-time jobs: a teaching assistant, worked in the proof department (before machines did it) in a bank, and worked in a hardware store on the weekends.


rem:  Busy.lady.  :-O  (P.S. I’d love to see some of your pen-and-ink work!) Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ANGIE:  Coffee, all day long. Splenda and creamer, please.

rem:  What is your favorite quotation and why?

ANGIE:  It’s a verse, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might, as to the Lord and not unto man.” Ecc. 9:10 KJV It’s always been my favorite because it’s what my parents taught me to do, give it everything I’ve got. Do the best I can, no matter what I do. I still try to do that.

rem:  Much better mantra than perfection. Much. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

ANGIE:  I love NCIS. The puzzle that they have to solve and the character development of the team is the perfect combination.

rem:  Favorite season? Why?

ANGIE:  Autumn. I’m a red-head and besides the fact that the temps start getting cooler, the changing leaves accentuate my coloring. (Ha!)

rem:  Autumn is a very close second (to spring, it’s a *ahem* robin thing… ) for me. Hugs or kisses?

ANGIE:  Hugs. From everyone.

rem:  Great.Big.Cyber {{{{{HUGZ}}}}} If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

ANGIE:  I know everyone says, Billy Graham, but there’s a reason. His obedience to God has been responsible for leading so many people to Christ (including me). I would just like to hear what he’d say, about anything.


rem:  That would be an amazing time! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ANGIE:  As a writer, Christian fiction is the best opportunity most people will have to introduce Christ to a large audience. Stories, told correctly, are the best way to teach people. They pull people in so that the readers experience the same thing as the characters. And, as Allen Arnold says, I have to lean on God to write those stories with Him.

rem:  Oh, Angie, I so agree with this. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

ANGIE:  Flat characters.

rem:  Which is more important: plot or characters?

ANGIE:  Character development makes or breaks the story. If the story’s characters are flat, the story is flat.

rem:  As a designer, I can very much rsee the difference between plans on paper—two dimensional—and 3-D renderings which add depth and life to drawings. Same as with characters in stories. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

ANGIE:  Honestly, I don’t know. Whatever God wanted me to do.

rem:  Hard to imagine, isn’t it? What are you reading right now?

ANGIE: I’m one of Beth Vogt’s first readers. Y’all, she’s got a good one coming out soon!

rem:  Ooohhh, SQUEEEE!!! What do you munch on while you write?

ANGIE:  I don’t have a favorite snack, but I drink coffee or my Splenda lemonade, all the time.


rem:  Lemonade sounds lovely. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ANGIE: When I was a corporate trainer, I became unable to stand all day, so I became a curriculum writer. I began to feel led to write fiction and attended the Christian Writers Guild conference. Later when I stopped working, God kept leading me from one writing opportunity to another. I’ve been very blessed.

rem:  I do love those stepping stones, and how nothing is wasted in Him. How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

ANGIE:  That is a very good question that I had to look up. The answer is 2011.

rem:  That’s a good while! What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

ANGIE:  The team. We care for each other, pray for each other, celebrate our successes and commiserate our “oops.”

rem:  The epitome of teamwork. How often do you post on the blog?

ANGIE:  On Seriously Write, every Tuesday I write or host someone who writes a post encouraging our readers to aspire to persevere. On my personal blog, http://www.angelaarndt.com, I post every Sunday.

rem:  The banner on your blog is one of my favorite ever. Tell us about your theme of back roads.

ANGIE:  Thanks so much! When I was a corporate trainer, I felt as though I was on the highway, but when I became disabled, it felt as though life was flying by. Suddenly it felt as though I was on, not a detour, but a bumpy back road. I learned that if I was going to find any joy on that back road, I was going to have to learn to trust God and lean on Him.

rem:  YES and AMEN! Angie, I can so relate to that, disability and back roads and all. You write about strong, independent women. Why did you choose them for your main characters?

ANGIE:  Because that’s what I want to be! I Seriously, I doubt that anyone – man or woman – would want to be weak or dependent. But the hardest part about being strong and independent is admitting that you can’t do it all. That’s when you have to lean on God.

rem:  Sweetie, that’s what you ARE. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ANGIE: I get up at 5:40 every morning, have a cup of coffee and read my Bible. After prayer time, I write. I know that sounds sanctimonious, but I can’t write until I get my “head on straight” by getting it off myself.

rem:  There’s a reason to start our day with Him. What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ANGIE:  Because I started writing late, I struggle with almost every aspect of writing. But I handle it by giving the whole process to God. When I forget to do that, I really struggle!

rem:  Truth! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ANGIE:  I love it when I solve a problem in my story. A lot of times, I’ll write, write, write until I get stuck. But when I figure out the “stuck” part, that’s so cool!

rem:  #nods in avid agreement! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

ANGIE:  If you’re called to be a writer, I would recommend: 1) join at least one writers group, like ACFW; 2) take classes, such as ACFW’s online classes or Novel Academy and 3) write! You’d be surprised how many writers don’t write!

rem:  How do you choose your characters’ names?

ANGIE:  I have a list of unusual names. I use BehindtheName.com (rem: gotta check that one out) and I still have trouble. Eventually the name fits the character I have in my mind, but it takes a while.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

ANGIE:  I have an idea of what I want to happen but then I use a version of the character journey to make sure I have all the ups and downs that make it a good story.

rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

ANGIE:  Injured firefighter Sabrina Honeybee Turner battles small town politics and natural enemies while struggling to keep her late father’s bee farm alive. But the conflicted memories of her childhood may prevent her from ever learning to love her father and embrace the legacy he left her.

rem: I was hooked already but that last bit just dug it deeper! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ANGIE:  I love Sabrina. She’s gutsy, stubborn and will push herself to do what needs to be done, even if it scares her to death. Everyone faces a time in their life when they’re scared. I hope that after they read my book, they’ll see that they can always trust God. We may not like where He takes us, but it’s always be where we’re supposed to be.

rem:  Ya, I’d say fits your “strong, independent women” persona to a T. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

ANGIE:  Well, I’m injured, like Sabrina, and my life is nothing like I expected it to be. My husband is a beekeeper, was a volunteer firefighter and was a ready resource for my many questions.

rem:  So life mimics fiction… Please give us the first page of the book.



Sabrina Honeybee,

            The day you turned five, you asked to go into the beehives to get the queen’s crown. You wanted it for your own. Well, honey, here’s your chance. No one else can do it.

                        – Dad


May, 2017

            Sun-washed banners swayed between the double row of faded aqua, green and yellow shop buildings in tiny Crossroads, South Carolina. According to her phone’s GPS, Sabrina Turner’s inheritance stood one short block away, on the other side of the proverbial tracks.

            Ever since she’d received the lawyer’s letter, she’d ransacked her mind, trying to remember anything about her father, her hometown. But all that surfaced were Mom’s words, communicated loud and clear, even from her deathbed: Crossroads is a dump. And your father? He’s a no-good bum—the biggest mistake of my life.

            What little cancer had left of her Mother’s things had been easy enough to divide up between her and her sister. Thank goodness her father had a will. Even so, it was still too tempting to downshift and peal out.

            Buck up, Turner. Where’s your mettle?

            She could almost hear her battalion chief’s deep voice, graveled by a steady diet of smoke and fire. Avoidance is not an option, he would say. Too many people depended on them.

            “Fine. I’ll do it.” Speaking the words out loud always settled things. Didn’t it? Best she could do was gather up those painful memories while she was here and bury them.


rem:  You packed a lot in those 241 words! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ANGIE:  That they can trust God with their life and that Christ died to save their souls.

rem:  Where can we find you online?











rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

ANGIE:  Whew! I don’t think so, although my favorite color is green. 😉

rem:  Oh! Can’t believe I missed that! 😉 Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

ANGIE: Thanks for having me! J




“Angela Arndt writes women’s fiction with a thread of romance, telling stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations set in small Southern towns. Her biggest hope is that she will encourage others to overcome their “back roads” and find their own joy in the Lord.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Angie Arndt, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, Back Roads, String of Pearls




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“It’s important to let the seed of joy grow through the darkness of adversity.”


“In my fiction, I introduce you to imperfect personalities—men and women you can laugh with, cry with, and want to shake straight a time or two.


rem:  Hullo Sandy! Welcome to my little nest! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

SANDY:  I’m originally from a small Indiana town, but moved to Texas at 16. My husband and I are empty-nesters. We’ve been living in North Carolina for twenty-one years and love it here.

rem:  Ooohh! North Carolina! We’re practically neighbors! Tell us three things about yourself.

SANDY:  I don’t like heights, but … I prefer the mountains to the beach. And I did not inherit my mom’s love of cooking.


rem:  I love the mountains, too! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

SANDY: Absolutely coffee in the mornings, not in the afternoons. I don’t drink much tea unless it’s winter and the tea is hot. Then it’s generally Earl Grey. When I do drink iced tea, it’s sweet. Shh… Don’t tell tea connoisseurs, but I’m a big fan of McDonald’s tea! It’s like slurping melted sugar.

rem:  Hello? Connoisseur here! LOL But you’re right, McD’s does have good tea.

What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

SANDY:  The most random thing? The two-pound hand weights I never seem to use except as bookends. I have great intentions, but they rarely move from their duty holding back some of the notebooks on my desk.

rem:  Ya, I have “Thing 1” and “Thing 2,” former 12 oz Coke bottles filled with water for the purpose of using as weights. For lifting. They’re cute decorations, though… Your movie snack of choice?

SANDY:  I rarely snack while at the movies, but if I did, it would be popcorn with lots of butter and salt. At home, while watching TV, it’s ice cream, though I try to keep it to a minimum.

rem:  Yum to both! If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

SANDY:  I would go back to the 1880s of the Midwest or West. I think it’s a result of being raised on ’60s westerns and growing up a horse fanatic. It’s a time when the world was starting to modernize (as we know it) with various inventions and conventions, yet there was still a wildness with the continued settling of the country.

rem:  The west does have a wild sense to it, doesn’t it? (also a kid of the ‘60’s) Would you bungee ?

SANDY:  I would not bungee. I prefer to use rubber bands for their original purpose. 😉

rem:  Bahahahah!  #bestanswerever Rolling Stones or Beatles?

SANDY:  I was never a big fan of either. Neil Diamond was my guy. However, I’d prefer the Beatles any day over the Stones. (Sorry, Mick.)

rem:  Ohhhhh, yeahhhhh, love me some Neil Diamond!  #SweetCaroline #CherryCherry, #SongSungBlue, #HelloAgain, #ForeverInBlueJeans  Oh…     What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

SANDY:  Foremost with Christian fiction, I think you know you’re getting a story that is clean, which is something you can’t always predict when picking up a general market book. I did a survey once and asked people why they read Christian fiction. That was the number one reason. There’s also the spiritual encouragement we get from the stories—seeing characters overcome through trusting God. Don’t we find satisfaction in knowing someone has found that faith, even if they’re fictional? Writing Christian fiction is good for me, because I always seem to learn something along the way—either from my characters’ experiences or researching the themes. It’s deepened my relationship with the Lord.

rem:  Well said, Sandy. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

SANDY:  Writers read differently than non-writers. Our minds are always on the lookout for those rules: no head-hopping, little to no telling, etc. It seldom happens, but I’ll pick a bestselling book that non-writers rave over. I can’t finish it, or if I do, I don’t enjoy it as much, because I’m always focusing on those things I’m taught not to do. rem: LOL, yes, I’m the same way!

My pet peeve is the repetition of a word within a short space or using a particular phrase repeatedly throughout a book. The more unusual it is, the more it stands out and becomes annoying to me. The only exception to a repeated phrase is if it’s a characteristic of a character used in dialog. As writers, we all have pet words or phrases. I certainly do. But it’s good to try to catch those things in the editing.

rem:  Ahem, I may or may not be guilty. Which is more important: plot or characters?

SANDY:  Back when I didn’t know anything, I would have said plot. These days, with deep POV, I think it’s the characters. Readers don’t want to read about fictional people. They want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and experience what they experience.

rem:  I like that, “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and experience what they experience.” What would you do if you weren’t writing?

SANDY:  Well … hmm … I don’t know. More gardening, certainly. Probably more shopping, in which case, I think it’s good I have something else to occupy my time each day.

rem:  LOL What are you reading right now?

SANDY:  At this moment, I’m finishing up Ronie Kendig’s new novel, Conspiracy of Silence.

rem:  That looks so good! What do you munch on while you write?

SANDY:  Other than eating my breakfast while I work, I try not to munch while I write. Sometimes I fail. In those cases, it’s generally chocolate-related.


rem:  Such discipline… Tell us a little about your writing journey.

SANDY:  Writing is something I’d always wanted to do, but didn’t have the courage to try until I found a community education class in my Texas town. We formed a writer’s group afterward, and I was hooked. I began with greeting cards and posters, then went on to short stories for childrens’ denominational publications after I became a stay-at-home mom. I also wrote adult short stories. It wasn’t until about eight or nine years ago that I was able to complete a novel—which will never see the light of day! Since then, I’ve concentrated on publishing novels and novellas.

rem:  Greeting cards! How fun! How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

SANDY:  I had to look that one up. Dora Hiers invited me to do a post for her in January of 2013. Then, when one of the hostesses left, the lovely ladies invited me to take her place. They’re a great group of writers and friends, and I so appreciate them letting me join the blog!

rem:  It’s one of my [many] favourite blogs. What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

SANDY:  Other than the helpful writing tips and encouragement—both spiritual and writing-wise—I like getting to “meet” so many writers and offering them a chance to add our blog to their tours when they have a new release.

rem:  And I get to meet all of you!  😉  How often do you post on the blog?

SANDY:  Altogether, I’ve done about eighteen posts since 2013. I started out doing something for every fifth Wednesday, but now prefer to give others the spot.

rem:  I love how ya’ll switch it up, and have your guest spots. You switched from writing short stories to novellas. What prompted the switch?

SANDY:  I actually went from short stories to novels when I felt the Lord telling me it was time to do so. I’d tried writing novels before, but it never seemed the thing to do at the time. But, you’re right, my first published book was a novella, and I’ve written a couple others since that aren’t published.

rem:  I like that your characters have “imperfect personalities.” What are some of the imperfections you give them, and what’s your favorite or worst one?

SANDY:  It seems so many of my heroes and heroines have difficulty with forgiveness—of themselves or others. I think it’s a universal theme in much of Christian fiction. Pride is the next biggie. I think my favorite imperfect character is a heroine in an as-yet-unpublished novel. She’s an incredibly strong woman on the outside, yet she struggles with a ton of guilt over her past actions (unforgiveness). She has trouble seeing herself as others see her. I think my worst imperfect personality is a secondary character from that same book—an antagonist. He’s arrogant and self-centered (pride), but he has potential and I so want to redeem him one day. 😊

rem:  That one’s a biggie! (forgiveness) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

SANDY: Ha! No cave. And a coffeehouse is too noisy, not to mention I’d probably be on too much of a caffeine high to concentrate! I took over my daughter’s bedroom as soon as she moved out on her own. It’s a joke around here that it’s something she hasn’t gotten over yet, but there are no childhood shrines in this house! 😊 I shut myself in about 7:30 a.m. and for (at least) the first couple hours, I work on social media, emails, blogs—all the writing tasks that don’t involve my current project. At times, it’s most of the morning. Then I buckle down to get my word count in until about 5:00 most days. Saturdays are minimal, and I don’t work on Sundays.

rem:  Not so different to mine, only ‘cept shift it a few hours later in the day…  LOL What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

SANDY:  I struggle with a number of things, but doubt is a big one right now. Am I working on the right project? Is my plot compelling enough? Can I get the story across in an interesting way? I handle my struggles by continuing to work and do my best.

rem:  I think that’s universal for authors, isn’t it? Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

SANDY:  Definitely the creative aspect. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had little snippets of scenes running through my mind. It’s good when I find a way to use them.

rem:  Yup, so true. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

SANDY:  Giving life to “people” and situations—those little snippets I mentioned—and letting my imagination run. I’ve also enjoyed making other writer friends. The majority are people I’ve never met in person. Maybe one day.

rem:  What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

SANDY:  The hardest thing for me is marketing, especially in-person marketing. It’s easy to share memes and specials online and put myself out there on blogs, etc., but contacting people in person about my book is really stepping out of my comfort zone. The easiest part of publishing for me is holding my book after I’ve slaved over it for months.

rem:  Yes. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

SANDY:  Recommendations: Persistence with writing growth and submitting. Patience with a slow-moving business. Development of an armadillo shell that wards off the gloom of rejection.

Don’t: Rush the process—enjoy the journey. Don’t think that a publishing contract is the end of the hard work—it’s just the beginning. Don’t ignore the value of making friends with other writers. They can become your greatest cheerleaders and provide the biggest shoulders to cry on when things go sideways.

rem:  Also yes. How do you choose your characters’ names?

SANDY:  For historicals, I like names from the period, however, I also like names that have a romantic appeal—at least to me. I skim through my baby name books and pick out something I feel matches the character or the story. It’s hard to explain, but a lot of times, I’ll see that character in my mind and a certain name seems right. For instance, Violet is not a name I thought I’d use for a heroine, but for the shy woman in my Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, it seemed perfect.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

SANDY:  I’m getting better at it. A synopsis is needed for submitting proposals, so I work out the main points and an ending. For my current project, I’m working on a scene-by-scene synopsis for my own use, but it’s not usually how I do things and I’m not sure how it will go.

rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

SANDY:  A Reluctant Melody released last year and recently won the Grace Award for Romance/Historical Romance. It’s a second-chance love story involving a former bad boy and the woman he once romanced to get back at his brother (Hugh, the hero of The Yuletide Angel). Kit wants to buy Joanna’s house for a mission to drunkards. His offer gives her the power to save her best friend from an abusive husband. She’s forced to choose between her friend’s safety and risking what might happen if Kit comes back into her life and discovers the secret she’s hidden for years. It also contains a murder mystery, but it’s not the focus of the plot.


Right now, I have a historical romance proposal out and am awaiting word on it. I’m also working on my first proposal for a contemporary romance.

rem:  Love the mix and twists there. What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

SANDY:  I love the characters in A Reluctant Melody. Joanna was brought low, but it destroyed her youthful vanity and created strength, loyalty, and a reluctant compassion. Kit’s low point also created compassion and a need to help others through what he experienced. It deals with an issue many older (and, I’m sure, younger) Christians struggle with today, namely, the changed moral outlook of society. How do Christians respond to things like out-of-wedlock births? It’s been a personal struggle for me. How do I show kindness without seeming to approve of a lifestyle contrary to God’s marriage plan? It’s tough. I tried to show my characters as flawed human beings who reap the consequences of their actions. At the same time, I wanted to show that God’s grace can wipe out those sins and provide our happy-ever-after.

rem:  Powerful stuff. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

SANDY:  I find interesting secondary characters in books, both those I read and the ones I write, and want to know their stories. It’s why I like reading a series. Kit is a secondary character in The Yuletide Angel. As soon as his role in Hugh’s life popped onto the page, I knew I’d write his story.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.

SANDY:  From A Reluctant Melody:

            Joanna Stewart’s fingers waltzed across the silk covering her lap. Had the stripes of the dress fabric been piano keys, the cab of her brougham would be filled with the melody of Sullivan’s “Let Me Dream Again.”

            She halted the romping digits and gripped the material of her skirt in a tight fist. Dreams. She awoke to the pain they caused years ago … after the lie of romantic love dealt its deadly blow.

            A horse car rattled past on the tracks running down the middle of Broad Street. The bell dangling from the animals’ collars jingled with each plodding step.

            Joanna’s driver, Liam McCall, turned onto Cleary. When the carriage stopped, she peeked out the window and scanned the dry and dusty street in front of the Stewart Broom Factory. When was the last time she’d ventured out of her house and into the midst of strangers? A month? Two? She wouldn’t be in town now if Perry’s note hadn’t stressed the importance of their meeting.

            A man on a bicycle passed too close to the carriage and thumbed the bell on his contraption. Her horse shied and the brougham rocked. Joanna grabbed the window frame to brace herself.

            Using coarse language and the power of brawny arms, Liam brought the animal under control. A moment later, he yanked the door open and held out his hand. “Foul things, horses. If it were up to me, I’d shoot ’em all.”

            Inwardly, Joanna cringed. “Even work animals deserve our respect and compassion, Mr. McCall.” As he helped her down, his callused fingers swallowed her lace-gloved hand.


rem:  Very telling first page—lots of info in there. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

SANDY:  The themes of the book involve grace and mercy. Joanna believes her past disqualifies her from God’s forgiveness. Kit has already taken hold of that grace, but he still hangs on to that need to make amends for past actions. I want people to know that they’re never too bad to receive God’s forgiveness if they ask for it, then those past mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.

rem:  Where can we find you online?



Seriously Write






And I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter. In it, I’ll keep you updated on my work, along with a few historical or other tidbits, polls, occasional giveaways or announcements about specials.

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

SANDY:  Thanks so much for having me, Robin! What a pleasure and what great questions!

rem:  Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!




            Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.
            A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.
            When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.
            Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?



“My job as a writer is to keep you turning the pages by creating realistic characters and exciting plots. My prayer is that from the story of at least one of my fictional people you will find inspiration for the trip along your own road of faith.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Sandy Ardoin, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, The Yuletide Angel, Family Ties, A Reluctant Melody


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“Blessed is she who believes, for there shall be a perfecting of those things which were told her from the Lord. Luke 1:45”


“The heavy burden of unforgiveness can eat at us day after day. Our consciences weren’t meant to carry it around with us. Ideally, our consciences can be cleaned. And when that happens, we’re free! Joy wells up inside because that heavy, horrible, monstrous burden has been not only removed, but obliterated.”



rem:  Hullo Annette! Welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ANNETTE:  I was raised in the Midwest and now live in Northwest. I’ve always been attracted to water and beaches and love visiting them whenever I can.

rem:  Me too, but I do love mountains and trees.  Tell us three things about yourself.

ANNETTE:  I’m a mother and a grandmother, and I’m completely in love with my grandson.


rem:  Because him stole your heart!!  ❤  Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ANNETTE:  Neither. 😊 I’m more of a cocoa person.

rem:  Of course chocolate, always the chocolate. What is your favourite quotation and why?

ANNETTE:  “God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” ~ Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire. That’s how I feel when I write.

rem:  So much YESSS!!!  What do you do as a hobby?

ANNETTE: I love gardening. A lot of times I don’t even let winter stop me. I’ll be out in my garden area with my containers and planting primrose in January as soon as I get the chance. Color inspires me, so surrounding myself in color helps me create. Even today, I walked through a local garden center, creating groupings in my mind—which colors go together, etc. It’s like creating works of art that grow. Like the beach, I can’t get enough.

rem:  Me too!! Haven’t had the opportunity for a long while, but there’s just something about digging in the dirt. What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

ANNETTE:  A signed choir practice log for my youngest. Music runs in the family. 😊

rem:  And a musician, too! Would you bungee?

ANNETTE:  With my back situation, I’d better not. But the hero in book two of the series I’m working on, may need to. 😉

rem:  Love when our peeps (characters) get to do stuff we can’t! Favorite season? Why?

ANNETTE:  Spring! I love when life comes back, when color returns, when the sun feels warm once again. And I have a spring birthday, so that’s always part of the fun of the season for me.

rem:  Birthdays always make it better! (Happy Birthday – Late… ) Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

ANNETTE:  Luke 1:45 “And blessed is she who believes, for there shall be a perfecting of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (MKJV) This is my life verse as God has spoken many things to me and fulfilled them. I love how personal this is, even the fact that it reads “blessed is she” because so many Scriptures use “he” language and leave it at that.


rem:  Annette, that’s beautiful. And a wonderful reminder to us all. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ANNETTE:  Jesus used story to communicate truths to people, so He set an example. He also wired humans, I think, to relate to and long for story. Great books (like great films) can change people. The highlight of CBA fiction is that we can include hope, which, paired with faith, is often the light that guides our way through difficult times in real life. In my career path as a writer, God has often used Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. (NKJV) He both gave me dreams and now he’s fulfilling them. The journey hasn’t always been easy or pleasant, of course, but dreaming in God is the best because what He begins in us, He will faithfully complete. That reassurance, and the sheer pleasure of dreaming, inspire me to work hard and keep dreaming.

rem:  Once I stepped into this role, which He’s had for me all along, my faith began to grow to new levels. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

ANNETTE:  Ooh, as an editor I have many. 😊 Recently, I was reading a novel by a well-known author that was so full of redundancies and telling, I could barely keep going. A few fiction pet peeves: overuse of the word cheeks and/or using the cliché “couldn’t help but” and “turned on his heel.” (People pivot on the balls of their feet. I’ve never understood that one.) Or the use of “roiling.” Enough already with that word. 😉

rem:  I may or may not have used the word “roiling” a time or two… Which is more important: plot or characters?

ANNETTE:  Characters for sure. I feel that readers relate more with them, especially in my genre (CBA romance, and women’s fiction). And relating with a character means putting oneself in her shoes, which can lead to breakthroughs and change as her epiphany influences ours.

rem:  What would you do if you weren’t writing?

ANNETTE:  Perhaps a career in marine biology or maybe horticulture. At this point, it’s difficult for me to picture a life outside of writing and editing. Using my imagination to create story is such a big part of my life, and has been, even from a very early age. Lately, God has brought memories to mind of how I used to invent stories (daydream) during our family’s summer vacations when I was a child. Dappled sunlight on a breezy summer afternoon, a boulder, and a tree surrounded in freshly mowed lawn was all I needed for inspiration. I’ve been spinning stories since before I was willing (and perhaps even able) to write them down.

rem:  After your answer above, I can totally see you in horticulture—maybe one of your peeps might take that on for you.  😉  What are you reading right now?

ANNETTE:  An autobiography by Steven Curtis Chapman called Between Heaven and the Real World (Revell, 2017). I enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies because they are the stories of people’s lives. I like relating and finding a kindred spirit. His approach to sharing his life story thus far is humble, friendly, and relatable as he discusses all sides of the faith walk—including tragedy—with readers. He didn’t sugarcoat the challenges, and I respect that. Of course, having his book on my nightstand this week has me breaking out in his hit song from 1992, “The Great Adventure,” at random times throughout the day. 😉

rem:  Annnddd…. Now “The Great Adventure” is playing in my mind—and I’ll go have a listen and share it to FB. What do you munch on while you write?

ANNETTE:  I don’t, actually. But I keep a glass of cold water nearby. In colder months, I bring a mug of cocoa to work with me.


rem:  Ohhhh, such discipline! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ANNETTE:  I remember writing songs when I was really, really young (before preschool and before I could write them down). Story came a little later, as you read above. When I was a tween, our family befriended a neighbor who had an old manual typewriter. I was fascinated by that machine. She’d let me pound out my stories on that thing for hours. Inspiration struck at all hours, especially when I was out walking or enjoying nature somewhere. Then, as a young mom, I picked up writing again, putting together a trilogy or two. I attended my first writers’ conference around 1998 or so and met other writers, as well as agents and editors. What a great experience! I was hooked.

rem:  I think my favorite bit of this whole thing is the wonderful network of writer friends I’ve made! How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

ANNETTE:  I launched Seriously Write in late June of 2009 and quickly asked Dawn Kinzer if she’d join in. Between the two of us, and with the connections we’d made in the writing world, we wrote lots of posts and invited our writing friends to visit. Later, we added more team members, who’ve done a fantastic job of making SW feel like a community. (So grateful for our faithful team!) We share new content every weekday to encourage fellow writers. It’s a great way to give back to the writing community, which has so blessed us!

rem:  So you’re the Founding Mother! What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

ANNETTE:  Our mission statement is: Encouraging and equipping Christian writers along their writing journey. I like that we stick to that focus because the creative life, with all its ups and downs, dreams, and times of waiting, and rejection, calls for abundant encouragement. We share content for writers from a Christian world view and try to always bring relevant information.

rem:  I love your team and how you all work together, with guesties, to maintain your Mission Statement. How often do you post on the blog?

ANNETTE:  That’s changed over the years. I’m posting once or twice a month lately. Mondays are my responsibility, and I have regular contributors whom I appreciate very much! As you know, blogging can highjack your time if you let it. 😉

rem:  Yeah, I love my guest post-ees, also. You write and you’re an editor—which came first?

ANNETTE:  Writing and publishing came first. Many of the freelance editors I know, as well as many who work for big publishing companies, began as writers themselves. That background helps editors 1) relate with authors, 2) understand writing from the other side of the desk, and 3) approach the process from one of personal experience. I worked in acquisitions for five years, even serving on faculty at a writers’ conference. Prior to that position, I had sat on the pitching side of the desk during those anxious editor meetings. Later, I was listening to pitches. I understood the angst and pressure. I tried to help writers feel at ease. And as an experienced writer and editor, I knew what to look for in their sample writing.

rem:  Besides Seriously Write, you have three blogs. How do you juggle them?

ANNETTE:  Like I said, blogging can highjack your time if you let it. Now that I’m under contract for three books (yippee!), and editing regularly for freelance clients, I must be even more careful about my time. So, honestly, I’ve had to let some of my usual blogging go. I keep up with my book review blog because reading for review is a way I can give back, and a way I can keep up with current books/authors/trends in Christian publishing. My other blogs have shifted from devotional to music sharing where I share music that inspires me.

rem:  Congrats on the contract! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ANNETTE: I’m so grateful to have a writing/editing office in our home. It’s a bedroom that I’ve decorated in a way that inspires me. I can go in there and shut out the world. I also use the space for my editing jobs. But using my laptop, I still have the freedom to go to the library, or my favorite spot—Panera Bread—to plot, write, rewrite, etc.

rem:  What a long way we’ve come since quill and paper, eh! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ANNETTE:  I’m not a plotter. Well, I’ll rephrase, I’m a part-time plotter. Plotting an entire story through every layer before writing does not come naturally to me. Still, I’ve seen that having an outline makes the writing flow, which is why I’ve got a “toolkit” of articles and books and workbooks on plotting (and many writing craft topics). A lot of times over the years, especially before I was under contract, I would write the full rough draft of a novel without much of an outline. Instincts after all these years of studying the craft of writing, guided me. But in the last several years, I’ve tried to come up with more detailed outlines ahead of time. I’m finding my way, but it still isn’t effortless. That’s why I’m glad for all the resources we writers can turn to these days.

rem:  I’m a 90/10 Plantzer, 90% pantzer and 10% plotter. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

ANNETTE:  When I’m wearing my author hat—creating! There’s nothing like the high of fingers-flying-and-words-flowing productivity. When I’m wearing my editing hat, and especially if the work is someone else’s and I can be objective—the editing aspect. I really enjoy mentoring other authors, which I get to do in my editing/critiquing work. Editing my own work is most effective if I’ve had a bit of a break from the material between writing and rewriting.

rem:  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ANNETTE:  The same thing I think readers enjoy—getting lost in the story. A few years ago, I was working on a project from the opposite season—I think it was a story set in the summertime, but the winter winds were howling outside as I wrote. I remember being so lost in that story world and setting, I had to shake off that world in order to return to reality. There’s nothing like that immersion into our imaginations and the world of a good story.

rem:  Those are the best—from both sides! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

ANNETTE:  Finding the right outlet is tough much of the time. This was especially true before indie publishing became such a viable and respectable option. My first book, Love Letters, (published 2007) was a marrieds romance, which is a tough story to place because the story doesn’t follow the usual formula of single people finding each other and falling in love. Thankfully I found a publisher who at the time was open to that type of outside-the-box story. The easiest? I’m drawing a blank in terms of easy publishing aspects. The part I like best? Sharing the hope God’s given me with others.

rem:  Sheesh, I’m nothing if I’m not “outside the box!!” LOL What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

ANNETTE:  Study the craft of writing as often as you can and know that it can take around 10,000 hours to become proficient in something. Read, read, read both in your genre(s) and in others. And network with others in the writing community by joining a critique group (which has the added benefit of learning from others, developing a thicker skin, making friends with fellow writers who “get you,” and practicing discernment with various types of feedback so you can decide what to incorporate in your manuscript). A few no-nos: Don’t be afraid to put your work out there (especially in a critique group setting). Don’t assume you know everything; we’re all still learning. Once you’re published, don’t let one negative review cancel out the value of the positive ones in your mind.

rem:  Such great advice! How do you choose your characters’ names?

ANNETTE:  I keep a baby name book on my bookshelf. I love this part of building a new novel. Also, there’ve been times when I’ve met people or read names in everyday life that have inspired me.

rem:  Yup, I got a baby name book, too. And docs of names for era / culture. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

ANNETTE:  In some ways, perhaps. My genre dictates certain aspects, and I do attempt to outline. (see above) But in many ways, the story flows as I write. Even when I outline, there are aspects of the story that are new to me as the writing gets underway.

rem:  Those are the best, I think, the unexpected bits as we write—“I did not see THAT coming!” Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

ANNETTE:  First, a little background. Today I’m featuring my previous release, Her Nerdy Cowboy because I do not have a final cover or a pre-order link available just yet for my summer release: Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington. (Follow my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Annette-M.-Irby/e/B00IQH8AOW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1) for more information on my Friday Harbor novel, which releases this September 1st. If you join me on my Facebook reader group, you’ll be the first to see my book cover when I do a reveal later this summer.


The Friday Harbor novel releasing September 1st is the first book in my Washington Island Romance series. I’m excited to take readers to gorgeous Friday Harbor and share the setting and some lovable, flawed characters as they reunite after twelve years apart. Here’s the blurb:


Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington (Releases September 1, 2017)

Professor Mikaela Rhoades has invented a way to benefit her students’ education while helping a family friend on San Juan Island, Washington. She’ll launch a new University of Seattle marine biology program involving Cahill Touring—a local whale tour operation in gorgeous Friday Harbor. The only hitch is the post involves working closely with her first love. Now she just has to face down her anxiety and get through the summer.

Captain Hunter Cahill took over the family touring business after his father’s death. He’s grieving and hoping this stodgy professor Mom has lined up will help resurrect the failing business. He’s not prepared for Mikaela, his former fiancée, to drop back into his life. Years ago, he promised his father he’d pursue her if she ever returned to the island unattached. The more time they spend together, the easier it is to keep that promise. But, she’s still destined to leave. How much will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela?

Will keeping his promise to romance his first love lead to another broken heart?

Here’s the summary for the book we’re featuring today, Her Nerdy Cowboy:

Whoever heard of a bookish cowboy? When Logan McDaniel’s brother-in-law dies, he steps in to help his beloved sister run her ranch. But what does a city boy know of herding cattle?

Claire Langley loved her cousin. After he dies, she agrees to serve as a temporary nanny for two heartbroken children. Claire and Logan find they share a love of books, and Claire can’t resist the nerdy uncle who is great with children and who reads to her of pirate romance, but Claire’s ailing mother needs her in Seattle. Can she break away? And if she does, can there ever be a future for Logan and her?


rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ANNETTE:  I’m a beach lover. Between the sand and the scents and the scenery, I can’t get enough of the beach, the sea, and marine life. In my Friday Harbor novel, my hero is a whale tour guide and my heroine is a professor in marine biology. They’re the perfect pair, if only they could get free from the past and see it. Writing this book allowed me to visit, even if only in my imagination, the beach and live in perpetual summer.

rem:  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

ANNETTE:  Probably a decade ago now, I was visiting a Christian bookstore and looking for a four-in-one novella collection set on the Pacific Coast or the Pacific Northwest near the water. Nothing like that existed on the market at that time. But it was summer, and I wanted a beach read! Since I was an avid reader of novella collections, and an aspiring author who had a few connections with published novella writers, I teamed up with some folks to put together a beachy collection. Our project wasn’t picked up, but I came to love these characters so I kept working on the story. The novella grew into a full-length novel and readers can pre-order it August 1st for the 9/1 release this summer.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.



Return to the stronghold,

You prisoners of hope.

Even today I declare

That I will restore double to you.

Zech. 9:12 NKJV



Rain drizzled over the empty parking lot at Lime Kiln Point State Park, well north of Seattle. This close to the Salish Sea, the mercury floated near fifty degrees, despite the calendar’s June date. Only one other vehicle—a scuffed pickup—sat abandoned near the trails this early. Professor Mikaela Rhoades could have the place to herself. But it wouldn’t have mattered if there were hordes of people. She’d find a spot to pray, contend for peace.

Her lungs squeezed in her chest. Did Hunter know yet?

Cold wind pitched mist at her face. She ducked under her raincoat’s hood, scooting across the parking lot, past the closed gift shop/interpretive center and orca sculpture. The scent of salty air reminded her of why she loved the water, her career path.

Was it a mistake to be here?

Oh, Lord, help. You brought me here. Please make this work.

She must remember to breathe. There were three reactions to fearful things—fight, flight, or freeze. Her reflex, almost every time, was to freeze. If she held her breath, the proverbial monster wouldn’t find her. She could hide. Evade. But always, she had to then face whatever the fearsome situation was and overcome. Otherwise, she’d never have gotten this far. Never have suggested this plan.

She’d have never come this close to a collision with her past.

I’m going to see him again. Something she’d been avoiding for over a decade.


rem:  WOW! Those 239 words tell a LOT! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ANNETTE:  I’m hoping readers will see that cooperating with God to face our pasts and letting Him heal us may be a painful journey, but we can emerge with a more healed heart. God is the God of restoration and the God of hope.

rem:  So very true… Where can we find you online? (provide links)









rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

ANNETTE:  Thank you for inviting the Seriously Write hostesses to visit your blog this month, and for having me today!

rem:  Thank you—and your SW cohorts—so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!




This is a season of consecration and prayer. There is a sweet invitation to enter His chambers and sit at His feet. Bring your troubles. Lay them down. Bring your questions and requests. Ask them. Nothing’s off limits. Wondering why the promises are taking so long? Ask. Wanting to see a breakthrough, bring it before Him. Enter in through worship and repentance. Delight in Him. Taste once again and see that He is good. Leave the past behind. Embrace Jesus. (2 September 2011)




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Annette Irby, Her Nerdy Cowboy, Husband Material, Love Letters

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If you’re looking for purpose in your life, you may want to start at the root—love.”


I believe in the power of story. It can comfort, challenge, and inspire. It can make us laugh, and it can bring us to tears. It can teach, take us on an adventure, and help us dream.”


rem: Hullo Dawn! Welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?


DAWN: I grew up in a small rural town in Wisconsin called Prairie Farm—population of around 550 people. My parents and grandparents were also raised in the town or nearby farms, so I was third generation. The setting and some of the characters in my historical romances (The Daughters of Riverton series) were inspired by the community.


After graduating with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, I married and lived in the Minneapolis area for fifteen years before moving to the Seattle area over twenty years ago. I love living in the Pacific Northwest because I have access to both the mountains and the ocean.


rem: I love the ocean but I really love the mountains!! Tell us three things about yourself.

DAWN: I have two grown daughters and a grown stepdaughter. I adore my three grandchildren—one boy, two girls. I’m a fan of Masterpiece Theatre.

rem: Ain’t nothing like those grand babies!!  ❤ (and I also love Masterpiece Theatre.) What do you do as a hobby?

DAWN: It’s a seasonal hobby, but I enjoy working in the yard. Although we’ve tried to use quite a few perennials, each spring I fill gardens, pots, baskets, and window boxes with an assortment of colorful annual flowers.

rem: I used to. Used to have dozens of houseplants. Then I moved and lost heart for it… Your movie snack of choice?

DAWN: I don’t have to give that question a second thought. I’m a popcorn fanatic. I could eat it every day, but I’ve worked hard on moving away from that habit.

rem: Ooohhh, love me some good buttery popcorn! If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

DAWN: I think it would be amazing to visit a number of time periods, but because my stories are set in the early 1900s, I think it would be really helpful for me to experience firsthand how people lived then.

rem: Now that just makes sense! Adventure AND research! What is the first thing you notice about people?

DAWN: I first notice people’s eyes. I can tell a lot about a person by what I see there, as well as if they’re willing to keep eye contact with me. Not that I want a stare down, but if people continually look away, I’m clued in to what they’re thinking or feeling at the moment.

rem: Eye contact is very telling indeed—and very vulnerable… Favorite season? Why?

DAWN: Fall is by far my favorite. I enjoy the cool air, the changing colors, walking through piles of crisp leaves, and the smells. The season makes me think of bonfires, apple orchards, hot cider, and fruit pies.

rem: Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

DAWN: My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


I cling to that truth during times of crisis, uncertainty, and loss. It keeps me going when I can’t see beyond today.


rem: Ya, sometimes our own plans just flop, but He’s always got us, doesn’t He? What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

DAWN: I write Christian fiction because I believe in the power of story to comfort, challenge, teach, and inspire. (rem: emphasis mine) I think there’s a little bit of us in the characters we write about. So, as they face challenges and work through their own past or present hurts or spiritual issues, we’re given opportunities to work through our own. At the same time, in order to write stories that have a chance to impact lives, we need to walk in close relationship with Christ and allow him and the Holy Spirit to work through us.

rem: I see more of myself in my characters with each one I write. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

DAWN: I have a difficult time reading anything that’s too sweet and easy. I avoid stories that lack conflict or real-life situations.

rem: Right, just no substance to them. Which is more important: plot or characters?

DAWN: They’re equal in importance for me.

rem: Agreed. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

DAWN: When I’m not writing, I’m editing for other authors. But if I were step out from the publishing umbrella, I’d probably gravitate toward working for some kind of ministry or community outreach. I’ve been involved in both in various degrees during my life.

rem: What are you reading right now?

DAWN: I’m just starting the novel When Angels Cry by MaryLu Tyndall.

rem: That’s a new one to me, will have to check it out. What do you munch on while you write?

DAWN: I don’t think about eating while writing, but I may grab a piece a dark chocolate, and there’s always coffee or flavored water nearby.


rem: Well, yeah, coffee is a given—and dark chocolate, excellent choice. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

DAWN: I’ve written stories since I was a child, I was the editor for my high school newspaper, and I had a short story published in my college newspaper. But, I didn’t get serious about writing professionally until twelve years ago. After co-writing three full-length plays for my church drama group, I realized that writing filled a void that nothing else had.(rem: again me)  At that point, I discovered American Christian Fiction Writers, and that organization gave me opportunities to connect with other writers online, through local groups, conferences, etc. I started blogging, meeting with a local critique group, and submitting manuscripts to agents and publishers. Although some of my articles, devotions, and short stories were published—and my novels generated interest—my full-length manuscripts were not picked up by traditional publishers. So, after my husband and I prayed about it for some time, I was led to indie publish. Now I have two books available for readers, and I’m working on the third in the series.


rem: A fellow writer of plays, eh? How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

DAWN: Annette Irby and I created Seriously Write in June 2009. Since then, the number of people involved on our staff has grown.

rem: Well Happy Blogaversary! (I had no idea) What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

DAWN: Our mission has always been to encourage and support Christian writers. I think we do a great job of providing helpful tips pertaining to writing and the publishing industry. But, I think I’m most proud that Seriously Write has also become a place where people have found it safe to be vulnerable with the struggles that come with this career—as well as what they deal with in their personal lives.

rem: As a faithful follower of your blog, I can say you do and do it well. How often do you post on the blog?

DAWN: It really varies. I’m responsible for content every Friday, but regular contributors cover two of those days each month. I try to give other authors opportunities to share their personal journeys to publication or encouragement the other days. I format and schedule all posts, and I fill in with articles of my own here and there.


rem: Ah yes, the “Blog-keeping!” What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

DAWN: I have a difficult time writing early in the morning, so I take care of editing for clients, social media, e-mail, and other business-related things first thing. Later in the day, I go to a quiet place in my house to write—away from my office.

rem: A fellow writer not of the morning! I do it “backwards” too. LOL What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

DAWN: I struggle with wanting to do it all—social media, marketing, meeting word count goals, etc.—and feeling like I never have enough time to do it all and still “be there” for family and friends. The only way I can handle it is to remind myself that people need to come first before my career.

rem: A very profound reminder. And one I believe Father honors. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

DAWN: I prefer editing my stories after I have the rough drafts down. I like the process of fine tuning and making what’s there better.

rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

DAWN: I have a need to be creative. It’s in my DNA. (rem: yep, me again) Creating something out of nothing—and hopefully something that is meaningful to someone else—is extremely rewarding.

rem: I believe the words Father gives us are always meaningful to someone, somewhere. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

DAWN: The hardest thing is getting your work noticed when there is so much competition for people’s time and money. I can’t think of anything that’s easy about publishing.

rem: uh, ya, I noticed that… What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

DAWN: My recommendations are: join a critique group of honest (but kind) writers who know the craft or are willing to learn with you, enjoy the journey (you’ll meet awesome people along the way), and do what’s right for you. For some that means pursuing traditional publishing, for some that means indie publishing, and for others, it means doing a mix of both.


Three things I wouldn’t recommend are: submitting your work to an agent or publisher until you’re confident it’s ready, comparing yourself and successes (or lack of) to someone else, giving up when you feel discouraged.


rem: Yes, I certainly have met some amazing peeps—present company noted! How do you choose your characters’ names?

DAWN: Because I’m currently writing historical romances, I need to make sure the names fit the time period. So, I research names that would have been given to children the year my characters would have been born, and then I pick from that list what feels best.

rem: I love doing my research, names and the rest of it. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

DAWN: I like a road map of where my story is going, and I want to make sure there’s a strong plot and enough internal and external conflict for my characters to overcome. So, I outline the entire story before I start writing, but I leave room for additional ideas and changes as the story and characters develop along the way.

rem: So, not a pantzer, eh? Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

DAWN: My latest release is Hope’s Design, Book 2 in The Daughters of Riverton series. An independent city girl aspiring to be a fashion designer falls for a stubborn artist from the country who wants to keep his talent a secret.


I’m currently working on Rebecca’s Song, which is Book 3 in The Daughters of Riverton series.


rem: What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

DAWN: Hope’s Design is a romance, but it’s also a story about following our dreams and what it means to be accountable for our God-given gifts. I love it because even though the story takes place during a time when women weren’t given many options for careers, Hope Andrews is still determined to follow her dreams, even though the journey is often discouraging.


The book will draw you into the lives of the people in Riverton (a small Wisconsin farming town in the early 1900s) and make you feel a part of that community. It will also encourage you to explore what it means to follow your own dreams.


rem: I love stories about following dreams—for so many years I didn’t… Tell us about why you wrote this book.

DAWN: I wrote this story because I believe so strongly in encouraging others—especially women and young girls—to pursue their passions, despite the challenges.


rem: Please give us the first page of the book.

DAWN: The first page of Hope’s Design:


Riverton, Wisconsin

June 1904

“Next stop, Martindale.”

The end of her long journey—almost. The railroad didn’t reach her final destination—the small country town of Riverton, Wisconsin. From what she remembered, with a population of over two thousand, Martindale was four times the size of Riverton.

Hope Andrews peered out the window at people on the platform saying farewell to passengers boarding the train. An elderly couple wiped tears from their eyes after giving a young man one last hug. He stiffened, as though embarrassed by their outward signs of affection, then softened and embraced the gray-haired lady before planting a kiss on her cheek.

One woman, wearing a faded dress and holding the hand of a little boy dressed in stained trousers, seemed to search the car’s windows for a passenger. Her face lit up in recognition, and she waved frantically. Was she saying good-bye to a husband leaving home in search of work?

That man—talking to a porter. Despite the thick, hot air in the train car, Hope shivered. Similar build, hair color, and taste in clothes, but it couldn’t be Henry. No one would divulge she’d traveled to the Midwest.

The stranger turned his face, giving Hope full view. Her shoulders relaxed, and she sighed in relief. Shame on her for letting even an imaginary Henry Shelton affect her—their relationship had been over for months.

A whistle blew, and the train inched forward. Cornfields and grazing cows would fill a portion of her scenery for the next year, maybe two. Quite a change from New York City, but for now, what alternative did she have? Because of Henry, she’d given up her home, her friends, and possibly any chance of becoming a real fashion designer.


rem: I’m intrigued—guess I better get caught up with the first one already… What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

DAWN: Dreams can come true.


rem: Yes to the Amen! They surely can—and do! Where can we find you online? (provide links)













rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

DAWN: Thanks, Robin, for having me as a guest!

rem:  And thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!



Courage is using the talents and gifts God has given you, even when you’re afraid you’re not good enough. Spiritual courage is answering the call God dialed into your heart, despite how crazy the world may view it.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Dawn Kinzer, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, Sarah’s Smile, Hope’s Design, Rebecca’s Song

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“I’ve always been interested in real food from scratch–gardening, canning, bread-baking, beekeeping, and more–but my conviction has increased dramatically since God has given me three delightful granddaughters.”

 “I’m Valerie Comer, and I’m a teacher at writers’ conferences and retreats with a number of popular topics. … Picture of what it entails to write a story. . .from beginning to end.”


rem:  Hullo Valerie, and welcome to my nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

VALERIE:  I was born and raised in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, but have lived in British Columbia all my adult life. My husband and I have two kids and four granddaughters, thankfully all within a two-hour drive of the 40-acre farm we’ve lived on for the past 17 years. After working in retail, I’m delighted to be a full-time author working from home! Of course, that feeds my workaholic tendencies as well, so there’s that.


rem:  Forty acres!!! That’s a lotta farm!! 😉  Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

VALERIE:  Coffee. Sweetened if mocha, but only cream if ‘straight.’

rem:  mmm, mocha! (got peppermint) What’s your favorite recent discovery?

VALERIE:  Dictation! I’m trading in typos for dictatos and trying to preserve my hands and wrists while I’m at it.

rem:  Preserve, like figs and plums?? Do you use sarcasm?

VALERIE:  Yes, it is my native tongue, and I am fluent in it.

rem:  Which is why we understand one another so well. What is the first thing you notice about people?

VALERIE:  Their eyes. Not the color, so much, but the focus and clarity. They are indeed windows to the soul!

rem:  Shuttered or open to the sun! Favorite season? Why?

VALERIE:  Anything but summer! I don’t do heat well at all. Even though I’m a gardener, I kind of like winter because there’s no pressure to do any yard work!

rem:  Now, THAT made me chuckle! Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

VALERIE:  1 Thessalonians :11-12 (NLT)

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
Why is it a favorite? Because a productive life is simply doing what’s in front of you, working with your hands, not being flashy or uppity. The rewards will come, one way or another.


rem:  So simple yet so eloquent. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

VALERIE:  It impacts me in more ways than I dreamed it would, honestly. It seems to be a form of journaling at times, when the story is mirroring my own spiritual walk. Emails from readers who’re drawn closer to Jesus through the characters’ journeys often bring tears to my eyes. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this opportunity to make a difference.

rem:  Truly amazing, isn’t it, when we have such profound impact on total strangers! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?  

VALERIE:  My pet peeve is too much telling, especially if it’s repetitive. Get on with the story already, why don’t you! What makes a story un-put-downable? If I’m immediately intrigued by the characters —  what they’re doing, what they’re saying — and if I feel the writer has a good grasp of pacing, I’m in.

rem:  I agree, repeating and saying things over and over are unnecessary and waste of words….. Which is more important: plot or characters?

VALERIE:  What is one without the other? Great characters doing nothing are just as boring as an intriguing plot with cookie-cutter characters. Yawn.

rem:  Good point. Then again, maybe the character IS a cookie-cutter, literally – a baker!!  tee hee hee What would you do if you weren’t writing?

VALERIE:  Is this a ‘thing?’ Really? I seem to be a workaholic.

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

VALERIE:  I rarely have food beside me. It’s more likely to be a mug of homemade mocha followed by a mug of coffee. One cup fuels about 1000 words!


rem:  That’s some good mileage there. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

VALERIE:  I began writing about fifteen years ago. After a while I began entering writing contests and finaling in them. I also attended some writing conferences and took online courses and workshops. In 2011, I sold my first work, a novella, to Barbour and got an agent. Two years later, we parted ways and I tested out a small press. In 2014 I regained my book rights and jumped into indie publishing with both feet and have since published about 20 titles in total, including 8 novellas. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to finally write full-time!

rem:  Valerie, you’re amazing – I can’t keep up with you!! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

VALERIE:  I write first thing in the morning, usually in my recliner on my swing-arm computer with that first cup of mocha, sometimes at my laptop in another part of the house (still with that mocha), and sometimes dictating into a voice recorder on my morning walk (sadly dry). I’m working on dictation being the normal process but that hasn’t become habit yet. My goal is 10,000 words a week of first draft unless we’re on vacation or the family is visiting. In the afternoons and evenings I’ll do editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, water cooler chat, and studying. I did mention the workaholic bit, right?

rem:  No wonder you’re so productive – you write all over the place! (you workaholic you) What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

VALERIE:  Comparing myself (or my books/sales) to more successful authors. I remind myself that I’m writing as an act of worship to God and doing my best, and the results aren’t in my hands.

rem:  Wise words, comparison does nothing but incur defeat. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

VALERIE:  Creation, by far. My goal is to tell it right the first time!

rem:  I detect a hint of perfectionism with that workaholicism… What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

VALERIE:  God, the Creator, made us in His image. This includes being creators, too! (rem: yes and amen!) I absolutely love the idea that these words I string together to tell a story have never been used in this way before. That somewhere, from the unknown recesses of my mind, characters and scenes and stories emerge that didn’t exist. Something from nothing. It’s really amazing!

rem:  Indeed, unfathomable. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would you recommend not doing?



  1. Hone your own writing voice
  2. Decide whether it is to be a business or hobby and make choices based on that
  3. Learn from those who have gone before you


1: Be in a hurry to publish

2: Brush aside advice and well-meant criticism

3: Equate book sales with God’s love to you


rem:  How do you choose your characters’ names?

VALERIE:  I often look on baby name sites for names that were popular the decade my character was born. Still, the name has to fit. He or she may try on a few names and, once the right one clicks, it’s like the character comes to life right in front of me.

rem:  Ooohh, I love when that happens! Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

VALERIE:  Nope, and I don’t even try anymore. I tend to do a lot of setting and character work in advance, more in conjunction with the series than with the individual books. I have some general theme ideas in mind and, of course, I know the guy and girl will get together in the end. I write romance, after all! But the journey unfolds in front of me like it does for a reader. Every day is a question of what happens next, which helps me remember I need God in the process.

rem:  Best definition of a pantzer I think I’ve seen! How many books have you written and which was your first one?

VALERIE:  Sprouts of Love is my 20th published book, including novellas! I’ve also written eight other novels, most of which (all of which?) are unlikely to ever see the light of day. Trust me, that’s a blessing for readers. Apprenticeship work doesn’t need to be shared with the world.

rem:  They, uh, learning curve writing, eh? Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

VALERIE:  Sprouts of Love is part of a multi-author series of foodie contemporary romances set in (fictional) Arcadia Valley, Idaho. The other authors and I released a six-novella collection entitled Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley in January, each introducing our part of the world and the series we’re writing in it. Sprouts of Love kicks off my three-book series within the world, and my current project is the next book, Rooted in Love, to be released in November.

rem:  What is your favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

VALERIE:  I love this book and the series so much it’s hard to describe. Working as a group in the same world has been a blast, and the glimpses of each other’s characters we are mixing in is definitely a big part of the fun. My favorite characters so far are the kids in the series. Maisie (age ten) and Evan and Oliver (age six) were introduced in Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. In Sprouts of Love, Maisie’s mom, Evelyn, finds her happily-ever-after amid a tsunami of vegetables. Rooted in Love will see the twins’ dad find love.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.


You’re Evelyn Felton?”

Whatever that was all about. The man blocking the entrance to Corinna’s Cupboard couldn’t be a minute over twenty-five, but that didn’t stop him from acting like he owned the place. Eyebrows raised, he appraised her from steely blue eyes.

What had she ever done to him? Nothing. She’d never seen him before… had she? Evelyn stiffened her back and kept the smile in place. “Yes, I’m Evelyn, and I’m here to meet with Ben Kujak about donating garden-grown produce. Is he in?”

Silence reigned for several heartbeats.

Had she asked such a difficult question? The building this charity operated just north of Arcadia Valley’s Main Street wasn’t that big. If Mr. Kujak wasn’t stocking shelves or applying for grants, he likely wasn’t on the premises.

The upstart chewed his lip then nodded, stepping aside. “With a name like Evelyn, I was expecting someone older.”  (rem: :-O )

He had to be kidding. Her name wasn’t Matilda or Ethel. Evelyn tightened her grip on her messenger bag and raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. You haven’t answered my question. Is Mr. Kujak available? If not, when’s a good time to meet him?”

Muscles rippled the length of his arm as he stretched out his hand. “I’m Ben. Come on in.”

“I, um…” She blinked and shook his hand briskly. “Hi.” Nobody had told her the man who’d worked miracles starting a charity from nothing was little more than a kid. Scratch that. Definitely not a child, not with how attractive he looked in those cargo shorts and gray T-shirt. Not with his light brown hair matching the stubble that graced his cheeks and chin.

Evelyn shook her head and took a deep breath. “Like you, I thought I was meeting with someone older.”


rem:  Well then, they’re off to a smashing start, aren’t they? What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with? 

VALERIE:  My stories tend to have aspects of farm and food, but the main themes most readers identify with are the characters’ struggles to belong, to find hope, and to grow in their spiritual life. In Sprouts of Love, both Evelyn and Ben deal with forgiving parents who had wronged them. Don’t we all struggle to forgive?

rem:  That’s not the one that trips me so much, but there is a plethora of others… Where can we find you online?










rem:  Valerie, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

VALERIE:  Thanks for inviting me over! It’s been fun to visit.


“Farm lit is any literature that embraces the life of modern-day “new” farmers.  … Many a riveting tale, from romance to women’s fiction to suspense—and beyond—can be told amid rows of corn or in the cow byre.”



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Valerie Comer, Farm Fresh Romance, Arcadia Valley, Urban Farm Fresh

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“They say “write what you know.” I’m fortunate to know grace and love pretty well – the grace of a heavenly Father who forgives me without my deserving it, and a love deeper and wider than my vast imagination can comprehend.”


“I yearn for connection – as I’m sure many of you do. It’s part of our make-up as human beings. True relationship building takes time and effort.”


rem:  Hello, Teresa, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

TERESA:  My twin sister and I were born in Honolulu, Hawaii (father was stationed there in the Navy) and raised in Central Florida. I then spent more than ten years in North Carolina attending college and marrying my husband. We now live in North Texas with our daughter and fur baby. I work full time as a director of communications for a large church—a career I’ve enjoyed for about 14 years.

rem:  Remind me to ask for some twin antics… 😉 Tell us three things about yourself.


  1. On paper, I test extremely introverted, though friends would never suspect that based on my outward interactions; I must recharge with quiet alone time.
  2. My home library is pretty lean because, more often than not, I give books away to friends or family once I’ve read them.
  3. I have a master’s degree in editing and publishing but focused on book design, which led me to a career in graphic design as part of church communications. I love it!


rem:  Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

TERESA:  My favorite coffee drink is an iced caramel macchiato…mmm!

rem:  Caramel—sounds delectable! What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

TERESA:  There is currently a pair of my daughter’s socks in my purse. Ah, motherhood!

rem:  LOL Classic motherhood. What’s your favorite recent discovery?

TERESA:  My daughter and I love the show The Zoo on Animal Planet, a behind-the-scenes show about the Bronx Zoo.

rem:  Do you use sarcasm?

TERESA:  All. The. Time. It’s my favorite tool to get through life. Ha!

rem:  What is the first thing you notice about people?

TERESA:  Whether they are kind or not. Sometimes it’s in their eyes, and you just know.

rem:  Very true. Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

TERESA:  I chose my life verse when I was going through confirmation in sixth grade. I think God knew then that my anxious nature would need it: “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God.” Isaiah 41.10.


rem:  And that’s what His presence is all about, peace. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

TERESA:  I believe Christian fiction is only different from secular fiction in that it sheds light on the only true conflict resolution: God’s grace and salvation. This can be really subtle, yet poignant in well-written Christian fiction. For me, writing has become my sacred time with God. It’s when I feel the closest to him—like he’s my co-author.

rem:  Ooohhh, I love that—He’s your (our) co-author! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?  

TERESA:  I guess my pet peeve would be characters who are too perfect or whose lives are hard to relate to. I want to read stories about characters I can see myself and my own struggles in. I am really drawn to stories with a strong sense of place. Setting is really important to helping me experience the story.

rem:  Like mine in the swamp???  wink wink… Which is more important: plot or characters?

TERESA:  I think the two go hand in hand; one can’t survive without the other.

rem:  Seems to be the consensus. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

TERESA:  Something else creative. In the past I’ve enjoyed crafts and home decorating.

rem:  Yes, well, home decorating, Interior Designer here—you’re speaking my (other) language! LOL What are you reading right now?

TERESA:  Nothing!  This book launch has taken so much of my time. My pile of books to read is tall!  I particularly can’t wait to open up The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson.

rem:    NO | KIDDING! What do you munch on while you write?

TERESA:  Usually just coffee. If I have snacks around me, I’ll eat too much!


rem:  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

TERESA:  I started writing Someplace Familiar over three years ago for National Novel Writer’s Month, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Since then, it’s been through so many rewrites and edits to get to where it is today.

rem:  Ah yes, good ol’ NaNoWriMo! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
TERESA:  Because of my full-time job and motherhood duties, I don’t really have a set routine. But when my husband is off on a weekend, I most enjoy camping out at my local coffee shop. I’ve been known to have a 6+ hours writing marathon when I can find the time. Otherwise, it’s a few hours a night after my daughter goes to bed if I’m not too tired.

rem:  Wait, is a mom ever not tired??? What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

TERESA:  TIME (see above answer). In an ideal world, I’d love to write full time. Since that’s not my current reality, I am learning to be kinder to myself. I try and focus more on what I can do and not on what I can’t. My number one priority is my daughter and husband, so the writing comes second. I pray a lot about finding contentment in every day, trusting that God is there always.

rem:  And Father honors those priorities. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

TERESA:  Creating, for sure!  There are no rules when you’re just writing ideas down. The story feels more alive to me in that phase. Editing can be very satisfying, but it doesn’t feel as organic to me.

rem:  I love the way you said that! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

TERESA:  I most enjoy the outlet it gives me to create people and worlds that only exist in my head. I’m also learning how amazing it is when readers are moved by my writing. The best feeling!

rem:  So true! I’m like a little kid when people tell me their (ahem, positive) response to my stories! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

TERESA:  Since I’ve decided to self-publish, the hardest thing is having to manage all of the moving parts on my own. It’s overwhelming some times. The easiest part is having a lot of friends who’ve done it before and are more than willing to help. The author community is really incredible!

rem:  I hear tell, though, that trad pubs have to manage much of it on their own anyway… What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

TERESA:  I’d tell new writers to not think too much (just write!), read all you can (about the craft of writing and books in your genre), and realize that you’re not alone (all writers have been where you are; reach out if you need help).

rem:  I so love the connections and camaraderie amongst fellow authors. How do you choose your characters’ names?

TERESA:  This is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. Sometimes, it is as simple as choosing a name I personally like. Other times, especially with last names, I research common names to the region the book is set in.

rem:  And let’s not forget when they introduce themselves… no name selecting involved. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

TERESA:  No! At least in the case of Someplace Familiar, I really wrote as it came to me. That was a good approach for my first book, but I think for future books I will do a little more outlining so it goes faster.

rem:  Ah, you “pantzed” it! KUDOS Your debut novel comes out the 30th of this month. Tell us about it.

TERESA:  Someplace Familiar is my debut contemporary southern romance novel. Here’s a short description:

Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Together they must find a way to survive the destructive pain of their pasts and ultimately discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts.

rem:  Sounds delightful! Can’t wait to read it! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

TERESA:  Laurel Cove is inspired by the small town where my best friend grew up. I fell in love with the place while attending college in the mountains, so it’s been a real treat to introduce readers to a similar quaint and charming town. I think readers will also enjoy the story of renewed hope in love as our main characters work together to restore Gram’s cottage.

rem:  How fun is that! And I love the mountains. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

TERESA:  I felt called to write a story of redemption and grace—both grace we can receive freely from God and the grace we can extend to others. Other than that, writing this book was really to prove to myself that I could do it.

rem:  Well done. Please give us the first page of the book.


Not much had changed about Laurel Cove, North Carolina in the ten years since Livy Johnson had last visited. Driving down Main Street, it was every bit as charming and picturesque as she remembered. American flags blew in the breeze in front of old store fronts. Two old men in overalls leaned lazily on the back end of a rusty pick-up, probably shooting the breeze. 

A red traffic light.

Livy’s foot slammed against the brake pad, lurching the car to a stop about a foot into the quiet intersection. The cracking of wood behind her seat could only mean one thing. Her easel had broken. How was she going to get back into painting without the easel she’d used since art school? What a great start to her new beginning.

With no traffic waiting, Livy steered the car left as the light turned. She needed no GPS to find the Laurel Cove Inn, a short, steep climb off Main Street. The car came to a much gentler stop in front of the grand white building sitting at one edge of the town square. Livy’s muscles ached from the five-hour drive from Raleigh as she stepped from the car and stretched her arms toward a cloudless sky. The building was every bit as beautiful as she remembered.

The sight of a man looking down from a second-story window of the inn pricked at her insecurities. A gasp of cold, crisp mountain air stung her throat as her hand rubbed at the heat rising up her neck. Her eyes cut to the hood of her car, its engine still pinging as it cooled. The uneasiness of being watched eclipsed the serenity of her surroundings. She’d come to Laurel Cove to hide from her problems, yet someone had already found her.

Don’t be ridiculous. It wasn’t like she was hiding. Plus, everything, and everyone, she remembered of Laurel Cove was good. Curiosity pulled her eyes back to the window. The man’s tall figure filled most of the space between the frame. Flat palm facing out, he nodded in her direction.


rem:  Well, I’m right there with her in Laurel Cove, and now m’wanna read the whole thing! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

TERESA:  I hope readers see that no love story is perfect and without obstacles, but can be breathtaking and inspiring all the same. Jack nor Livy are perfect; they each struggle with forgiveness, insecurities, trust, etc. I hope readers see themselves in these characters and that they, too, find hope within God’s grace.

rem:  God’s grace indeed, wonderful. Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today! And welcome to the world of author hood!










“… if my writing can speak of these sorts of grace and love to others – maybe even you – then what a gift it is, indeed.”



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Teresa Tysinger, Someplace Familiar

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“The highlight of blogging for me is when I am able to introduce you to your next favorite read or a new-to-you author!”


“Considering that my first word was “book”, it was pretty much a given that I would be a voracious reader.”


rem:  Hullo!!!  Hullo!!!  Hullo Meez Carrie! Welcome to my little nest! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

CARRIE:  I was born in East Tennessee, raised in northern Illinois, and we moved to central Kentucky when I was a freshman in high school. That was (muffled) years ago and I’m still here! Love my state!

rem:  It’s good to love your home, wherever you may be. Tell us three things about yourself.

CARRIE:  1. I love to read (duh) 2. I tend to collect book boyfriends 3. I love being a “cool aunt”!

rem:  So you read? Really?? huh, who’d’a thunk it…. And kudos for “cool aunt.” You have an unusual blogging companion, Zuzu. Tell us about her.

CARRIE: Zuzu is the quirkiest dog in all the land! We adopted her when she was a year old and we’ve had her for almost ten years. I’m trying not to think about how old that makes her (sniffle). Zuzu is a Vizsla-Boxer mix and takes her duties as “Velcro dog” very seriously. Must be near one of her humans at all times. She loves to sleep but she also loves to play and go on walks and in many ways she still has a lot of puppy energy. And she has the softest ears EVER.

rem:  What a precious, sweet face. ❤  I understand Zuzu hosts her own interviews. Here is today’s interview, something of a prank perpetrated on her poor self.


Jasper with his sister and assistant, Juniper


What is your favourite quotation and why?

CARRIE:  One of my very favorite quotes is from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, while Mr. Beaver is talking about Aslan. He says, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” I love what that says about Jesus. He never called us to be safe … and He never promised us safety per se. But He is so very good, and because of His goodness we can dare to change the definition of ‘safe’!

rem:  One of my favorite stories, book and movie! And wonderful quote, so much truth and so much meaning. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

CARRIE:  My all-time favorite movie is While You Were Sleeping. Oh be still my heart, I adore that movie! I’ve practically got it memorized 😊 I don’t know that I have a favorite TV show. I hardly ever watch TV.

rem:  Also a favorite movie—Bill Pullman, super swoon!! Also love Sandra Bullock (but no swoon  😉 ) Your movie snack of choice?

CARRIE:  Popcorn with lots of butter!!! Or… homemade Chex mix. It’s my Kryptonite.

rem:  Of course, must have butter. Do you use sarcasm?

CARRIE:  Noooo never. 😉

rem:  Nah, me either. Ever. Favorite season? Why?

CARRIE:  Fall or winter. I’m one of those people who thrives on being cool or outright cold. Also, I love snow. And that’s hard to find in summer 😉 Plus… Thanksgiving and Christmas. Need I say more?

rem:  Love the snow and Christmas, cold not so much… Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

CARRIE:  Yes! Psalm 73:26 from the New Living Translation – “My health may fail and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” I have a health issue that causes a great deal of pain, day in and day out. There are days when I’m so discouraged. But this verse reminds me that the strength of my heart, my spirit, does not depend on my circumstances. Instead, God remains the strength of my heart! And how encouraging it is to know that He is mine FOREVER!!

rem:  Thank you for the reminder, Carrie. He is indeed our strength. I, too, have health struggles, and the only way I can thrive at all is by the Word of God. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

CARRIE:  Life is messy. Anybody can write about the mess. But as Christians, we have hope in the middle of our mess. We have a Savior who loves us so much He got down in the mess with us and helps us up. Christian fiction is so important because it includes the hope.

rem:  Such a lovely and poetic way to say it, Carrie, and so true. I’ve long known that we, as Christians, must also get messy at times in order to bring His hope where it is most needed.

When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

CARRIE:  Well, bad writing breaks it really quickly. If the dialogue feels like narrative “disguised” as conversation, that’s another deal breaker. (That’s probably my biggest fiction pet peeve, too, by the way rem: ditto ) What makes a story for me?? It hits me in the feels (whether it be laughter or tears or swooning) and it paints a picture of redemption, even in general market fiction.

rem:  Yeah, I’ve read some that read as if a twelve-year-old wrote it and I soon lost interest. And yes, I can read redemption into stories that probably never meant it to be there. Which is more important: plot or characters?

CARRIE:  Yes. LOL. Honestly, they are both equally important in my mind.

rem:  I must agree. J What would you do if you weren’t reading and reviewing?

CARRIE:  I’m not sure I understand that question. 😉

rem:  And I’m glad you don’t… What are you reading right now?

CARRIE:  A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

rem:  Can’t wait for your review, I haven’t read her yet. What do you munch on while you read?

CARRIE:  Healthy popcorn (aka, no butter lol)

rem:  What?!?!?  No butter??? How long have you been reading? When did you start reviewing?

CARRIE:  I have been reading since I was three years old. One day I just started reading the newspaper and the 2nd chapter of Philippians to my parents who, needless to say, were quite surprised! Lol. I started reviewing in April 2015 😊

rem:  That’s quite impressive! Where do you read: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

CARRIE:  Anywhere and everywhere, but I prefer to read in bed 😊

rem:  That’s how I “tuck” myself in every night. What gets your attention in a new story? Where do you find / look for new books to read and review?

CARRIE:  What gets my attention? A great turn of a phrase. And someone tackling a subject or a character-type or a trope that doesn’t get a lot of attention. I find new books for the TBR galaxy (it upgraded from a tiny pile) from a variety of sources – publishers send them to me, authors email me, and I stalk Amazon and Netgalley and Goodreads.

rem:  Yeah, “pile” is long gone notion of future reading material. And I dare say, authors stalk you, too… jus’ sayin’ Have you ever read a book you couldn’t finish? Why?

CARRIE:  Yes. The writing was stilted and the events (and reactions to the events) were just so unbelievable. I just couldn’t …

rem:  I hear ya! Artificial conversation in the name of informing the reader is perhaps, my biggest pet peeve in reading! Without naming names, what’s the worst story you’ve ever [tried to] read?

CARRIE:  Probably the one I mentioned above, though there are a couple of others I could mention.

rem:  Without naming names, what’s the best story you’ve ever read?

CARRIE:  Oh gosh, Robin! That’s an impossible question. Can I plead the fifth here?? lol

rem:  I’d chastise you but I’m in the same boat! If you could be a character in a book you’ve read, who would you be and why?

CARRIE:  I would want to be Emma from Jane Austen’s novel because she gets Mr. Knightley 😊

rem:  I think I hear a swoon in that… Do you ever read a book twice?

CARRIE:  YES! Not as much now that I’m reviewing books (just no time) but I have a couple from my plain old reading days that I’ve practically memorized I’ve read them so often.

rem:  How many books have you read?

CARRIE:  total??? Thousands. Last year? 378, I think.

rem:  Sheesh, superpower indeed! I’m doing good to read one in a week! What’s the last book you read and reviewed? Tell us a little about the story and give us the first line.

CARRIE:  Ok, well, I didn’t review this one yet but it’s a new fave – Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. I can’t believe it took me so long to read it but oh it’s such a great story!! It’s all told in letters from Samantha Moore to her mysterious anonymous benefactor who calls himself Mr. Knightley. Ahhhhh!!! I love this book so much!! (Yes, Sarah Monzon, you can say ‘I told you so’ 😉 ) The first line is: “Dear Sir, It has been a year since I turned down your generous offer.”

rem:  Oh goodness! She’s definitely on my radar! Anything you’d like to add?

CARRIE:  Thanks so much for having me on your blog, my friend!!

rem:  And thank you so much for being here!










“Avid Reader. Book Reviewer. Story Addict. KissingBooks Fan. Book Boyfriend Collector. ESOL Teacher. Cool Aunt. I love Jesus and THE Story a whole lot.”



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Reviewer Interview, Carrie Booth Schmidt, Zuzu



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